National Security Cutter

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National Security Cutter
USCG National Security Cutter BERTHOLF (WMSL-750).jpeg
USCGC Bertholf, the first National Security Cutter
Class overview
Name: Legend-class National Security Cutter
Builders: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Preceded by: Hamilton class
Cost: $684m(average), $735m(FY13 ship)[1]
In service: 2008–
Building: 1
Planned: 11
Completed: 7
Active: 7
General characteristics
Type: United States Coast Guard Cutter
Displacement: 4,500 long tons (4,600 t)
Length: 418 feet (127 m)
Beam: 54 feet (16 m)
Draft: 22.5 feet (6.9 m)
Speed: Over 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range: 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km; 14,000 mi)
Endurance: 60 days
Complement: 113 (14 officers + 99 enlisted) and can carry up to 148 depending on mission[3]
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • EADS 3D TRS-16 AN/SPS-75 Air Search Radar
  • SPQ-9B Fire Control Radar
  • AN/SPS-73 Surface Search Radar
  • AN/SLQ-32
  • AN/UPX-29A IFF
  • MK 46 Mod 1 Optical Sighting System (WMSL 750 - 753)
  • MK 20 Mod 0 Electro-Optical Sighting System (WMSL 754 - 758)
  • Furuno X and S-band radars
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System
  • 2 SRBOC/ 2 x NULKA countermeasures chaff/rapid decoy launchers
Armor: Ballistic protection for main gun
Aircraft carried: 1x MH-65C Dolphin MCH and 2 x sUAS [5]
Aviation facilities: 50-by-80-foot (15 m × 24 m) flight deck, hangar for all aircraft

The United States Coast Guard's National Security Cutter (NSC), also known as the Legend-class cutter and Maritime Security Cutter, Large, is the largest of several new cutter designs developed as part of the Integrated Deepwater System Program.[6]


The Legend-class cutters are the second longest of all U.S. Coast Guard cutters, behind the research icebreaker Healy, and will replace the twelve Hamilton-class cutters in service.[7] These cutters are envisioned by the Coast Guard as being able to undertake the entire range of the high endurance cutter roles with additional upgrades to make it more of an asset to the Department of Defense during declared national emergency contingencies.[8] These vessels can be used for a variety of tasks, including: intercepting suspect vessels, rescuing swimmers, protecting fisheries, maritime homeland security missions, counterterrorism activities, coastal patrol missions, defense operations, and other military/naval operations. To facilitate intercept missions, the Legend class can carry and launch both the Short Range Prosecutor and the Long Range Interceptor rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs). The cutters are configured to be able to survive in Low Threat Environments, factors of which include an enemy having a poorly equipped military, some coastal patrol craft, and few to none anti-ship cruise missiles. Operations in this environment can also be general defense operations including theater security, port protection, ship escort, anti-piracy, and maritime interception operations. The cutters can also survive in Medium Threat Environments, which can include a fairly well equipped military of ships and aircraft with weapons and radar coverage well offshore, higher numbers of anti-ship cruise missiles and a possible submarine threat. Operations in this threat environment could include defense operations, naval surface fire support, and the evacuation of non-combatants. The cutters are not expected to survive in a high threat environment for a decent amount of time with their current configuration.[9]

The cutter has a rear-launching ramp, capable of launching and retrieving the two aft stored rigid-hulled inflatable boats while underway.[10][11] The NSC is built to about 90% military standards.[12] The NSC is designed to US Navy Damage Stability Criteria and to Level 1 Survivability standards.[13] Most of the NSC design is compatible with ABS Naval Vessel Rules.[14] The NSC has degaussing capability.[15] The cutters have a reduced Radar cross-section (RCS) which gives the cutters a higher degree of stealth over the past cutters.[16]

Combat suite[edit]

Legend-class cutters have increased data link bandwidth.[citation needed] The EADS North America TRS-3D radar system provides three-dimensional air and surface search functions and is used in the LCS program as well as the German Korvette 130 program.[17] The cutters are also equipped with the AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare (EW) system used in the DDG-51.[18] The Legend class is equipped with the same 220 rpm Bofors 57 mm gun as mounted on the USN's Littoral combat ships.[19] Guided 57 mm ammunition is being developed for the Mk 110 for the Navy and Coast Guard, including for use on the National Security cutters.[20] The Missile Defense duties are handled by the NULKA decoy systems, the MK 36 SRBOC decoy systems also used on the FFG-7 and CG-47 programs and the CIWS.[21] The combination of the Mk 110 and the Phalanx give the cutter's Anti-Surface capability, limited Air-Defense capability and the capability to provide naval gunfire support.[22] The cutters increased interoperability means they are capable of executing assigned naval warfare tasks with the US Navy.[23] The cutters have space, weight, and power reserved for additional weapons and systems which includes mine warfare systems, non-line of sight missiles, and can have a SeaRAM replace the 20mm Phalanx CIWS.[24][25] The NSC is capable of carrying a sonar that is reported as having mine and underwater swimmer location ability.[26] The NSC has a NBC detection and defense system to repel chemical, biological, or radiological attacks and has wash-down systems.[27] The cutters weapons, command and control suite can be upgraded and is hardened to survive potential attacks and process increased data flow.[28]


The first NSC, USCGC Bertholf, entered sea trials in February 2008.[29] She has been in service since August 2008, and is homeported at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, California. A second NSC, Waesche, is also homeported in Alameda in 2010.[30] Construction of Stratton - which now carries a crew of 123 - began in 2008 at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The vessel was christened by first lady Michelle Obama on July 23, 2010, and released to the custody of the Coast Guard on September 2, 2011.[31] She is now in service in Alameda. Construction on the fourth NSC, Hamilton, began in 2011. The Fleet Mix Analysis (FMA) Phase 1 study in December 2009 called for nine NSCs,[32] but there are eight ships in the Program of Record and only seven hulls have been funded as of the FY2013-17 capital investment plan.[1] The NSC's proved their capability to perform naval operations during the 2012 RIMPAC exercises, where the USCGC Bertholf detected and tracked missile threats and also provided naval gunfire support for troops ashore during the training exercise, demonstrating the capability of moving with other naval forces and being able to perform other defense operations.[33]

Program issues[edit]

On 7 July 2009, the Government Accountability Office reported that delays in the NSC program are likely to result in "the loss of thousands of cutter operational days for conducting missions through 2017."[34] The GAO also reported that month that problems in the NSC program have delayed the OPC program by five years.[35] The program was also plagued by structural issues; the Coast Guard historically uses its cutters extensively, typically 180 days at sea a year, furthering the problem this will often be in North Pacific and North Atlantic waters that are some of the roughest seas in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, the stresses on the Cutters are expected to be very severe. Structural Analysis showed that some parts of the cutter could be expected to survive only 3 years. This has been addressed in cutter 752 on, with the first two cutters receiving reinforcements later.[36] WMSL-752, the Stratton, suffered corrosion and leaks within weeks of commissioning in 2012. Earlier ships have not had that problem so it may be the result of the Cathodic protection system being hooked up in reverse. The NSC program originally encountered problems meeting TEMPEST requirements, but after more recent testing the first NSC, the USCGC Bertholf, passed all TEMPEST requirements.[37][38]

The delays and problems have led to cost increases. The latest USCG estimate for eight ships is $5.474B for an average cost of $684m but hull 8 is not currently funded;[1] the first six hulls cost $3.902B for an average of $650m/ship.[1] The sixth NSC cost $735m in FY2012/3.[1] In the FY18 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill released on the 21 November 2017, funding for the 10th NSC at a cost of $540 million and long lead items for the 11th NSC was proposed. [39]


Huntington Ingalls Industries has proposed two "patrol frigates" for Navy use, based on the NSC hull.

Patrol Frigate 4501 is very similar to the NSC, the main differences being a modified stern ramp[40] and a knuckleboom crane replacing the overhead crane.[41] The crew is increased to 148,[40] and it was offered to the US Navy as a replacement for the Littoral Combat Ship;[41] the FY13 cost of an LCS was $446.3m compared to $735m for an NSC.[42]

Patrol Frigate 4921 is a more radical redesign with a crew of 141,[40] adding weapons and sensors at the expense of reducing range from 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km) to 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km).[41] It adds a 12-cell Mk56 VLS launcher for ESSM air-defense missiles, just behind the main gun which is upgraded from 57mm to a 76 mm Super Rapid.[40] Two quad launchers for Harpoon (missile) anti-ship missiles and a triple launcher for torpedoes are added to the stern.[41] It retains the SeaRAM/Phalanx CIWS and 6 machine guns of other NSC variants.[40] The stern is closed in and houses a towed-array sonar;[41] there is a hull sonar for mine countermeasures and an ESM suite.[41] The original "National Patrol Frigate" concept had an AN/SPY-1F air-defense radar[43] but by 2012 the PF4921 was being shown with an Australian CEAFAR radar.[40]

Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Germany have also shown interest in NSC derivatives.[40]

Ship list[edit]

Ship Hull Number Builder Namesake Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport Status
Bertholf WMSL-750 Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula Commodore Ellsworth P. Bertholf March 29, 2005 September 29, 2006 August 4, 2008 Alameda, CA Active in service
Waesche WMSL-751 Admiral Russell R. Waesche September 11, 2006 July 12, 2008 May 7, 2010 Alameda, CA Active in service
Stratton[44] WMSL-752 Captain Dorothy C. Stratton July 20, 2009 July 23, 2010 March 31, 2012 Alameda, CA Active in service
Hamilton[44][45] WMSL-753 Secretary Alexander Hamilton September 5, 2012 August 10, 2013 December 6, 2014 Charleston, SC Active in service
James[46] WMSL-754 Captain Joshua James May 17, 2013 May 3, 2014 August 8, 2015 Charleston, SC Active in service
Munro[44] WMSL-755 Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro November 5, 2014 September 12, 2015 April 1, 2017 Alameda, CA Active In Service
Kimball[44] WMSL-756 Sumner I. Kimball March 4, 2016 December 17, 2016 March 4, 2017 [47] Honolulu, HI Active In Service
Midgett[44] WMSL-757 Chief Warrant Officer John A. Midgett, Jr. January 27, 2017 November 22, 2017 Honolulu, HI Under construction
Stone[48] WMSL-758 Commander Elmer F. Stone On order

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e O'Rourke, Ronald (14 February 2014). "Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress" (pdf). Congressional Research Service. pp. 5–7. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  2. ^ "MTU Powers Deepwater National Security Cutter". The world of Dieselman - MTU. 
  3. ^ "National Security Cutter: Program Profile". US Coast Guard. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "National Security Cutters". Defensemedianetwork. Retrieved 22 May 2017. With much more room on the national security cutter it becomes a considerably more capable platform, because if needed, more sensors and weapons can be added. 
  5. ^ Coast Guard Selects Small UAS For NSC (PDF), USCG Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, retrieved 16 December 2017 
  6. ^ "National Security Cutter (NSC)". Integrated Deepwater System Program. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  7. ^ "End Of An Era, USCG Retiring Hamilton Class Cutters -". 
  8. ^ John Pike. "Maritime Security Cutter, Large (WMSL) / National Security Cutter (NSC)". 
  9. ^ "Deepwater Project Bofors Defense 57-mm L". Retrieved 2 October 2017. 
  10. ^ "Short Range Prosecutor (SRP)". Integrated Deepwater System Program. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  11. ^ "H770 DJ Short Range Prosecutor (technical specifications)" (PDF). Zodiac Group. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  12. ^ "COAST GUARD CUTTER PROCUREMENT". USCG. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  13. ^ "SPS for Integrated Deepwater System" (PDF). US Coast Guard. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  14. ^ "Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress" (PDF). Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  15. ^ "THE NATIONAL FLEET PLAN" (PDF). Department of the Navy and the US Coast Guard. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "The National Security Cutter: Enduring Presence for Core Missions" (PDF). Retrieved 21 May 2017. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare (EW) system". 
  19. ^ "Error Page". 
  20. ^ "L3 Mustang Technology Passes U.S. Navy's Critical Design Review for Guided Projectile Program" (PDF). Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "On patrol with Waesche: Firepower". US Coast Guard. Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  23. ^ "UNCLASSIFIED LI 4206 - Coast Guard Weapons UNCLASSIFIED Navy Page 1 of 4 P-1 Line #30 Exhibit P-40, Budget Line Item Justification: PB 2015 Navy" (PDF). Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  24. ^ "NATIONAL SECURITY CUTTER Enhanced Oversight Needed to Ensure Problems Discovered during Testing and Operations Are Addressed" (PDF). Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  25. ^ name=Ronald O’Rourke2008>"Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress" (PDF). Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  26. ^ "Revised Deepwater Asset Descriptions" (PDF). Retrieved 16 November 2017. 
  27. ^ "Proceedings August 2011 Vol. 137/8/1,302 : Page 18". USCG. 
  28. ^ "National Security Cutter (NSC/WMSL)" (PDF). Retrieved 10 August 2017. The Maritime Security Capabilities allow cutter’s weapons and command and control suite to be upgraded and hardened to better survive potential terrorist incidents and process increased data flow 
  29. ^ "Bertholf Sea Trials on Flickr" Coast Guard News on Flickr
  30. ^ "Acquisition Directorate (CG-9)". 
  31. ^ "Real Estate". 
  32. ^ O'Rourke (31 Oct 12), page 26
  33. ^ "National Security Cutters Demonstrate Capabilities". Mark Faram, Defense Media Network. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  34. ^ "Coast Guard: Observations on the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget and Related Performance and Management Challenges" July 7, 2009 GAO
  35. ^ "Options for Combining the Navy's and the Coast Guard's Small Combatant Programs". Congressional Budget Office. 
  36. ^ John Pike. "National Security Cutter (NSC) Maritime Security Cutter, Large (WMSL)". 
  37. ^ "SHAPING A 21ST CENTURY USCG: THE KEY ROLE FOR MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT". Retrieved 14 November 2017. The first National Security Cutter, USCGC BERTHOLF, has passed all TEMPEST and information assurance requirements culminating in the authority to operate 
  38. ^ "NSC gets TEMPEST certification, much needed modernization moves forward". Retrieved 14 November 2017. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ a b c d e f g Mazumdar, Mrityunjoy (24 April 2012). "Patrol Frigate Concepts from Huntington Ingalls Industries Gain Traction Internationally". Defense Media Network. 
  41. ^ a b c d e f Fein, Geoff (25 April 2012). "HII seeks exports for redesigned NSC". Jane's Defence Weekly: 8. 
  42. ^ O'Rourke (31 Oct 12), pages 4 & 51
  43. ^ Ewing, Philip (13 April 2011). "The phantom frigate". Military Advantage (DODbuzz). 
  44. ^ a b c d e Susan Gvozdas "Coast Guard lays keel for NSC Stratton" July 21, 2009 Navy Times
  45. ^ "Ingalls Shipbuilding Launches Fourth U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter". August 13, 2013. 
  46. ^ "Coast Guard cutter to be named for Joshua James". Compass. 
  47. ^
  48. ^ "Photo Release--Ingalls Shipbuilding Awarded $88.2 Million Advance Procurement Contract for a Ninth NSC". August 30, 2016. 

External links[edit]